What is LabVIEW NXG and What Does It Mean For LabVIEW?

By James McNally | Technologies

I’m writing this article on the plane to NI Week 2018 where there will no doubt be a lot of discussion of the future and LabVIEW NXG.

If your new to the ecosystem this may raise a lot of questions. What is LabVIEW NXG compared to LabVIEW? Should I be investing in LabVIEW NXG instead of LabVIEW? Does this mean LabVIEW is risky for the future of my project?

In this article, I will address these questions from my perspective.

What is LabVIEW NXG compared to LabVIEW?

LabVIEW has been around for over 30 years. The graphical language we use in LabVIEW (referred to as G) is as relevant and groundbreaking as ever – providing a way of creating software that is far more intuitive to certain ways of thinking and proving natural for leveraging technology advances such as parallel programming.

The LabVIEW environment though carries some baggage of those 30+ years though. The clearest examples of this are the pixel-based graphics that limit popular feature requests being introduced such as diagram zooming and improved user interfaces.

NXG represents a parting with the LabVIEW environment to build it on modern technology so the language can thrive for another 30 years. It is a complete rebuild of the environment we code in.

Because the language is the same, much of the existing programmers skills will translate, but there is going to be a learning curve around the new environment and a few new concepts that NXG introduces.

Should I Invest in NXG?

As of May 2018, the answer is that it depends on your application.

Currently, there is no support for Real-Time or FPGA. Many toolkits are yet to be ported over and integrations such as .net are unavailable. For this reason, we are still cautious to recommend it for many applications. (See the full comparison here)

NI are rapidly filling these gaps though. So if you have new engineers working on simpler problems, the time may be right as more features get introduced. Right now data acquisition is well supported and the user interface is already looking more advanced in core features such as graphing.

Right now at Wiresmith Technology, we are not heavily invested in NXG as we have a lot of libraries to port over to be as effective as in LabVIEW (and our customers pay us to be effective). However, we do expect to start incorporating elements in the next year or two where there is a clear benefit to NXG.  Right now there seem to be a couple of killer features for it:

  • Web VIs let us create Web interfaces for our systems.  We have done this with javascript but expect it to be much faster with NXG and the visualisation technology looks excellent.
  • Dynamic or complex UIs. The technology that NI has released in NXG already looks to be ahead of the current generation, and we are already investigating how this can be combined with LabVIEW to create better overall systems.

Is LabVIEW Risky?

So, does this look to the future mean that adopting LabVIEW as it stands today is risky? Will I have to start again in NXG? Will NI “turn off” LabVIEW one day and render my systems useless or unmaintainable?

We have no such concerns for the following reasons:

  1. LabVIEW skills are transferable to NXG. It’s not seamless but it won’t require retraining everyone from scratch.
  2. NI have committed to supporting LabVIEW for many years. Each new version is in mainstream support for five years, and NI will continue to develop new versions of LabVIEW. Even then, there are still systems running that are written in LabVIEW 20 years ago – these will continue to function although in the longer time frame may have to be transferred.
  3. NI are heavily investing in migration technology to take projects from LabvIEW to NXG. While this may not be seamless, you are not painting yourself into a corner by building applications in LabVIEW today.

So Wiresmith Technology Don’t Do LabVIEW NXG?

We are poised and ready! While it isn’t right for most of our customers now, if you have a specific requirement for NXG we are still happy to take on the project.

 I hope this article helps you to understand the landscape a little better and where we see things heading. Of course, you are welcome to contact us if you have questions or comments.

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About the Author

I founded Wiresmith Technology to help engineers improve their systems and products with quality measurement systems. I'm a Certified LabVIEW Architect, Certified LabVIEW Embedded Developer and LabVIEW Champion.

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